President Barack Obama warned Friday he will not sign another “short-sighted” spending bill, but said he still sees a path to quickly completing a bipartisan budget deal that would increase spending.
“I will not sign another short-sided spending bill like the one Congress sent me this week,” Obama told reporters Friday at the White House. “We purchased ourselves 10 additional weeks, we need to use them effectively.” Obama, whose remarks came during a news conference that followed the formal announcement of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s forthcoming resignation, said it’s time to undo the automatic cuts he and both parties’ leaders agreed to in 2011 to spur a broader deal. He made a pitch for more spending.
“We can’t fund our country the way we did 10 years ago because we have greater demands with an aging population, with kids who need schools, with roads that need to be fixed, with a military on which we are placing extraordinary demands,” he said.
Obama noted he had started up talks with the Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with hopes of quickly coming to an agreement on topline spending numbers. But he acknowledged Boehner’s pending departure complicates the issue.
“It’s not that complicated. … The math is the math,” he said. “And what I’ve encouraged is that we get started on that work immediately, and we push through over the next several weeks and try to leave out extraneous issues that may prevent us from getting a budget agreement.”
He warned Republicans that issues such as Planned Parenthood funding should not be part of the discussion; he likened efforts to defund the group in the budget to him threatening to shut down the government unless he got new gun laws from Congress.
That, he said, would be “irresponsible.”
He said the system has a way for their concerns to be addressed — pass a bill and override his veto. He said he strongly disagrees with opponents of Planned Parenthood.
He also warned Congress that they have five weeks to send him an increase in the debt limit, and said he would not negotiate over it — a position he’s had since he agreed to more than $2 trillion in spending cuts to avoid a default in 2011.
The president expanded on his extraordinary comments from a day earlier about the politics of gun control in the wake of yet another mass shooting on his watch.
“I will politicize it because our inaction is a political decision that we are making,” he said.
To fight the NRA’s political machine, he said, people need to become single-issue voters against politicians who oppose new gun laws.
“The people who are troubled by this have to be as intense and as organized and as adamant about this issue as folks on the other side, who are absolutists and think that any gun safety measures are somehow an assault on freedom or communistic, or a plot by me to take over and stay in power forever or something,” he said. “I mean, there are all kinds of crackpot conspiracy theories that float around there. Some of which, by the way, are ratified by elected officials in the other party, on occasion.”
Obama’s press conference came after he thanked Arne Duncan for his service with regret and announced his replacement , John B. King Jr.